It’s a FAKE!!! (Part I)

Donna bought me a Seiko watch in 1978. I wore it in the cockpit of almost every jet I flew for the rest of my USAF career. One day, shortly after re-entering civilian life, I jumped into a pool with it on. Water got in the works and it stopped running. The watch repair guy at the mall said it wasn’t worth what it would cost to fix, so it sat in a dresser drawer.

Meanwhile the watch, often called a Seiko Pogue after the NASA astronaut who wore one aboard Skylab in the 1970s, became a collectible. In 2022 we decided it was worth fixing after all and damn the cost. I sent it to a Seiko watch repair shop in California. They rebuilt it, for about what the watch would sell for today on eBay. I don’t plan to sell it and in fact hope to pass it on some day.

I wear the trusty old Pogue often. It’s an eye-catcher, so I also post photos of it (and my other watches) to watch forums and groups on social media.

Here are photos, before and after it was fixed:

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The photos I post on social media show the rebuilt watch. I only kept the before photo for reference and it’s a good thing I did, because some eagle-eyed Seiko fanatic on one of those forums saw something he didn’t like and started shouting FAKE! FAKE! FAKE!!!

I mean, literally. His first response to the photo I posted was a question to the group admins: “Isn’t it a group rule that we don’t allow fakes?” Someone else commented “Nice piece,” to which he responded “It’s a fake.” Followed by “I *know* it’s a fake.” Within minutes, the guy had other group members going, like the lady who said how sorry she felt for me, the poor dupe who bought a FAKE!

I resolved to stay above it all, but reader, I failed. After agonizing over what to say, I finally responded to it’s-a-fake dude: “If it’s fake, then it’s been fake since 1978. I’m the original owner.”

Only after goading me into defending myself did my accuser identify the problem: “Someone changed your dial with a fake one.” As soon as I saw that I fished out the before photo and I too saw the problem. The watch repair shop replaced the dial with another one, and it’s … gasp … incorrect.

On the original dial (left photo), there are tiny lines of text at the 7:30 and 4:30 positions, and a little black symbol on top of the sub-dial (the one that counts 10/20/30 seconds). These are missing on the replacement dial (right photo), and now that I see it I can’t unsee it.

What makes a fake, anyway? To my mind, a Timex with a Rolex dial is fake. But this is a real watch, an original with some replacement parts, which is a thing that happens when you have an old watch rebuilt. Seiko made Pogues from 1969 to 1978. There can’t be many still in circulation that haven’t had some parts replaced.

Looking closely at mine, the hands have obviously been replaced. Probably also the date & day of the week wheel, maybe the crown and push buttons on the side. But those parts are correct: they match the originals. The bracelet too is aftermarket, but identical to the one the watch came with 45 years ago.

You’ve already guessed what comes next.

I found and bought a replacement dial that’s an exact match for the one in the before photo. My friend Chris, who worked on one of my other watches earlier this year and did a fantastic job, says he’ll install it for me. When the dial comes, I’ll ship it and the watch to him, and if all goes well will probably have it back by Christmas.

I’m not obsessing over the incorrect dial to make it’s-a-FAKE!!! dude happy. I’m obsessing over it because I should have noticed the problem the minute the watch came back from California last year and I didn’t. Damn it, I should know my own watch, the one I flew with all those years, and I didn’t. So it’s on me, and I’m having it put right to make me happy, not some asshole on a Facebook watch forum.

Yeah, that’s the ticket!

p.s. Does this make me an official watch nerd?

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